Mixed Reality Applications in Urban Environment

Urban environments are extremely complicated areas because of the traffic, many buildings, and a large number of people. Such areas generate vast volumes of data that is difficult to use in information systems effectively. The high amount of information might be overwhelming to the users.

Photo by Andrew Neel

As a result, researchers have come up with different techniques of filtering the data and designing systems that help urban planners create safe and responsive towns. Virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) systems are some of the conventional methods used by urban planners. Mixed reality (MR) and augmented reality (AR) systems are popular because they combine real-world experiences.

Applications in Urban Environment

For instance, I came across this research article that was conducted to investigate the urban behavioral studies. This research by Park et al. (2008) evaluated the role of fear in pedestrian navigation using virtual reality 3D model environment. In this research, different pathways such as narrow passageways with no escape, passageways with hidden spaces, passageways with dumpsters, and passageways with threatening individuals were created in the virtual environment. This environment was created using textures from photographs of real-buildings and the objects in the streets.

The participants were asked to navigate the streets and data was taken to examine the sense of security in the designed allays. The results of the Park et al. (2008) indicate that many participants choose the wider paths than narrow paths, paths without hidden spaces than paths with hidden spaces, paths without dumpsters than paths with dumpsters, and paths with no threatening individuals than paths with threatening individuals. The research is useful to urban planners to curb cases of insecurities and design better pathways that create a sense of security.

Another interesting study by Bulman et al. (2004) provides an overview of how mixed reality is used across three fields of consumer, industrial, and military domains in urban centers. The research developed an information provision system (IPS), which filters the large volumes of information and provides the information only relevant or useful to the user. The IPS focuses on displaying the data based on the proximity of the user to a GIS-referenced point. The GIS-referenced point is used to detect an area and display the information/media within the vicinity of the user. This IPS tool is crucial in mixed reality application as it helps eliminate information overload.

The Bulman et al. (2004) research demonstrated how the network engineers could navigate the streets to identify the cable within the premises. The developed mixed reality environment could also help the engineers identify faulty networks, which helped in speeding the fixing time and reducing the costs of maintaining the network cables in urban centers.

The study also shows how mixed reality technology is used to improve military operations. The research posited that the success of military operations is dependent on the awareness of the current situation. Therefore, designing a virtual reality environment that gives military personnel a perception and knowledge about the given environment helps in eliminating uncertainties. The system developed by the researchers had incorporated the command control that guides the soldiers in the actual environment, and this helps in removing surprise attacks and friendly fires.


This article has described in detail how mixed reality/augmented reality is used to promote order in an urban setup. The first example explained in the article discusses how urban planners could use mixed reality to improve safety by observing the behaviors of the participants in a controlled virtual environment. Further, the article has explained how the mixed reality is applied in promoting coordination in the military. Finally, the article described how mixed reality is used by network engineers to identify network lines and repair damaged lines.

There are several other ways that we have left out in this article that you can share in comment section.

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